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Here's A Crash Course In How To Play Scattergories On Zoom

Awaken the nostalgic part of your brain.

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Looking for a way to liven up your Zoom calls? Need a game to play during your next virtual happy hour? Sick of just staring at your friends’ faces during your video chat catch-ups? (Our daily routines have been the same for 12 months so everyone is more than caught-up.) Fear not, for you can play Scattergories on Zoom. If nothing else, it’ll awaken the nostalgic part of your brain.

If you and your friends crave inconsequential competition — my favorite kind — Scattergories is the low-stakes drama you seek. If you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher, Scattergories is a word game where you roll a giant die with letters on each side. Then, you fill out a list with random categories like actors, colors, or things you find in a zoo. Each answer needs to start with the designated letter. You get a point for each original answer. If someone else has the same word as you, neither of you gets the point. Prepare to argue about who counts as a celebrity and how creative you can get with the names of colors.

Some other rules to abide by:

  • No adding an adjective before a word to make it work with the letter (e.g., Blue Toyota for “cars that start with B”).
  • No repeating words (e.g., no using orange for “colors that start with O” and “fruit that starts with O”).
  • Be nice and have fun. This is just a rule for living life.

You can also make up your own rules — I like to award bonus points for creativity. Or ignore rules you don’t want to abide by like repeating words. I’m not your Scattergories daddy.

Here are five ways you can play Scattergories over Zoom with your friends. Let the (low-stakes) games begin!

1. An Online Version Of Scattergories

There are a handful of different versions of Scattegories online. My personal favorite is this Scattergories list generator from Swellgarfo. (If you don’t like that layout, there’s an alternate design.) You’ll need to share your screen for this one if you want to play it on Zoom. From there, it’s pretty simple. Just make sure everyone has a piece of paper, a pencil, and the propensity to tell the truth about their answers.

If you need a crash course in Zoom Scattegories: Screen-sharing Edition, here’s how you can play:

  • Have one person go to Swellfargo’s Scattergories game or a site. They’ll then share their screen so you’re all looking at the same list. (You can access the “Share Screen” option by clicking on the green arrow at the bottom of your video or by clicking the Zoom icon in the top right corner of your Mac.)
  • Click play when everyone’s ready. (Hit “restart” if you want a different letter.)
  • After two minutes, everyone shares their answers. If you give an alliterative answer (e.g., “Marilyn Monroe” for “celebrities that start with M”) you get an extra point. If someone else has the same answer as you, you both cross that item off.
  • Play as many rounds as you want. Whoever has the most points at the end wins the title of Lord of the Scattergories.

2. Scattergories You Can Play Without Sharing Your Screen

If you don’t want to share your screen, there’s also Scattergories online with a shareable link. It's admittedly not the prettiest site but it does work. One person will need to set up the Scattergories room — with this version, you can select which game categories you want to include from a list. Then, they’ll be able to choose letters you want to include in gameplay, ensuring you won’t have to come up with a list of words that start with X or Q. You can also specify how many people are playing, how many rounds you want to do, and how long each round ends. Finally, drop a link in the Zoom chat and you’re good to go.

3. Make Your Own Scattergories

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If you really want a DIY version of the game, there’s an extremely 2010s-looking blog with lists of original Scattergories category cards. Pair that with a random letter generator and this Scattergories timer video with the OG Scattergories timer sounds, and you have yourself a trip back to your childhood.

4. The Scattergories App

There’s also a free Scattergories app from Hasbro. (It has in-app purchases and some limits on how many free games you can play in a day.) However, you can only play one-on-one against a friend who also has the app. Since the app reveals answers and tallies points for you, your Zoom call can be used exclusively for trash talk.

5. Scattergories, The Board Game

Chances are good that at least one person on your Zoom call owns a physical version of Scattergories. Adapt the rules a bit so that person is the Scattergories MC. They'll roll the letter die and select one of the lists from the game. When the timer starts, they'll read through each category one by one while everyone else writes down their answers. If they're feeling nice, they can read through the list again so people have a chance to answer items they may have skipped. From there, you score the game as per usual.

This version works best for groups where screen sharing may be difficult or you just want a version of Scattergories that lets you interact with your friends a little more while you're playing.

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